A Columbia County Juvenile Court judge on Wednesday expelled from school two members of a Lakeside Middle School group calling themselves the “Charlie Rape Gang.”
The three other “gang” members will be allowed to return to school, Juvenile Court Judge Douglas Flanagan decided during a detention hearing in Evans. All the boys were released to their parents.
Schools Superintendent Charles Nagle said Wednesday afternoon that all five still will appear before a hearing officer, who adjudicates school-related offenses involving pupils and has the authority to expel. Nagle didn’t say in an email when the hearing will take place.
“Judge Flanagan’s recommendation will certainly carry a strong consideration for their disposition,” he said.
The three 13-year-olds and two 12-year-olds are accused of grabbing or pushing down and “dry-humping” unwilling classmates at the school. All five were charged with misdemeanor simple battery in Juvenile Court.
“I have concerns when people push other people down or knock them down and take advantage of them,” Flanagan said. “That’s a form of bullying.”
On Feb. 14, a teacher at the school overhead some pupils discussing the gang. School officials met with the boys’ parents and they were suspended for two days.
A parent of a victim reported the incident to police on Feb. 18, claiming her son described the boys “knocking down both males and females and jumping on top of them and humping them.”
Columbia County sheriff’s Investigator Brian Jones testified at the hearing that one of the boys is accused of attacking one classmate, while each of the other four are suspected to have done the same thing to three or five classmates.
“It wasn’t every one of them at every time in every situation,” Jones said. “It was basically started more or less as just a joke. ... It was just kind of hump their leg or something like that.”
Jones said the “game” started between one of the boys and a South Carolina boy visiting his home. The name Charlie Rape Gang developed after one of the boys had a dog named Charlie rub on his leg at a ballpark.
During a Columbia County school board meeting Tuesday, Kristy Golden said one of the boys attacked her son in the school’s hallway and “made sounds like dogs make.”
The incidents mostly occurred in locker rooms and bathrooms, but also a few times in hallways and classrooms, Jones said. None of the victims claim the incidents involved genitalia, nudity or damaged property.
Attorney Bill Fleming, who represented the boys at the hearing, said the incidents were “dry-humping or simulating pelvic thrusts, fully-clothed, with other kids they went to school with.”
Three of the boys have no disciplinary histories.
Lakeside Middle Principal Felicia Turner testified Wednesday that two of the boys, both 13, had prior disciplinary issues.
“They were in a fight and just some disrespectful behavior at school,” Turner said.
Flanagan said they were not allowed to return to school, but could opt to attend the alternative school.
Parents of all the boys who attended the hearing were upset and said their sons made immature, bad choices.
Jennifer Rose, parent of a Lakeside Middle pupil, said she approved of Flanagan’s decision.
“This behavior is absolutely unacceptable, and I think Judge Flanagan’s message to both the offenders and their parents will resonate with them for a while,” she said. “I’m also very glad to know some of these kids will have to go to school somewhere else. I just hope their criminal skills aren’t honed in the process.”